On November 1, the 2018 IndieWire Honors ceremony will celebrate seven filmmakers and actors for their achievement in creative independence. We’re showcasing their work with new interviews and tributes from their peers all week. Here, “Tully” screenwriter Diablo Cody salutes star Charlize Theron, the recipient of this year’s Maverick Award.
There’s a snide old saying, often heard behind closed doors in Hollywood, that goes something like this: “God rarely gives with both hands.” In other words, most objectively gorgeous people aren’t equally blessed with talent, intellect, and all those other qualities we find in innovators and savants. (The reverse tends to be true as well— there’s a reason why nobody’s Googling, what shampoo does bill gates use, and I’m pretty sure not a single SpaceX employee has a Dior contract.)
In your case, however, it appears that a dexterous and many-armed Goddess was feeling grandiose on the day She bestowed your gifts upon you. For example, I don’t know many smart women who’d also look great with a shaved head and yet, here you are. If I shaved my head, I’d look like Gru from “Despicable Me,” because that’s generally how the world works: either you get to be hot or you get to be “interesting.” I would call your existence unfair, except you deserve all of it because you are also— ALSO!— a kind, warm, charitable and hilarious person, so… fuck you?
I remember back in 2010 I was visiting the set of “Young Adult,” in which you so brilliantly portrayed the unhinged Mavis Gary. I kept my distance from the action, as I always do, because I am respectful of actors’ craft and also because I have a pathological fear of accidentally stepping into the frame and hearing the cinematographer shout “HEY FATTY, YOU’RE RUINING MY SHOT.”
This was the day you filmed the crucial scene where Mavis freaks out after Buddy rejects her at the baby naming ceremony. Watching you work that day was more than inspiring; it was transformative. I thought to myself, My God, that woman is a genius. I’d been aware of your talent since I’d sobbed watching “The Cider House Rules” on a futon in college, but to stand so close to the event— and great acting is an event, like a rare eclipse or spectacular transit — well, I’ll never forget it.
I never imagined I’d be fortunate enough to work with you twice, so when we reunited for “Tully,” I felt— how do I put this in classy, eloquent way? — so lucky that I wondered if I had a horseshoe stuck up my ass. “Tully” is a very personal script for me, as you know, and to be able to collaborate with you on the creation of the character of Marlo was not only exciting, but… healing. Because of you, I was able to go into what could have been a scary experience feeling not fear, but complete trust. I knew you would understand both sides of Marlo, a loving mother who would do anything for her children but who also wants to hop on a Citi Bike and score coke in Bushwick. When I heard you were doing the movie, I simply thought, with total certainty: Oh, it will be great. And it was, and you were, and are, and will be as long as you continue to share your art with us.
Thank you for being a generous deity.